Posts Tagged 'Brooklyn'

The Red-Orange and the Black-Purple

Cardinalis cardinalisNorthern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Quiscalus quisculaCommon Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)

Ruddy, Ruddy

Oxyura jamaicensisMany ducks sport their breeding plumage over the winter, but the Ruddy Ducks don’t start turning until… about now. This male should have an astonishingly light, electric blue bill and much warmer cinnamon-brown plumage in a month or so.Oxyura jamaicensisA female. She won’t get all peacocky. Ruddy ducks often have their stiff tails raised as here and below.Oxyura jamaicensisA common pose, bill tucked under wing. Note that this one has some of those cinnamon feathers coming in. They don’t breed here, so we miss most of the big show.

Raptor Wednesday

Buteo jamaicensisButeo jamaicensisButeo jamaicensisWhat you don’t see here are the Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) that were buzzing this Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). I may have inadvertently flushed the hawk from some prey on the ground on the hill below me, since when it first landed it looked like it was stretching a piece of flesh between talon and beak. And then the Jays, who are ever vigilant in Green-Wood, were on the bird, making it do a little branch dancing. This hawk is still sporting its juvenile plumage; no red tail yet. Also, the cere, the soft skin at the base of bill, isn’t the yellow of a mature bird.

Common Reed

Phragmites australisIt’s certainly photogenic, if nothing else. You don’t find much life in a patch of Phragmites, although Downy Woodpeckers and, as here, a Black-capped Chickadee in winter extremis, peck and poke among the dry stalks for evidence of invertebrates.Poecile atricapillus

Winter Work

oneA bare patch in the snow finds Starlings, Robin, and White-thoated Sparrow rooting in the leaf litter. Snow cover definitely makes it harder to find seeds and invertebrates.Zonotrichia albicollisHere’s one of the White-throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis). This species comes in two forms: this is the white-striped, with the strong white stripe along the forehead. Zonotrichia albicollisThis is the tan-striped. This particularly bird flew here:fiveYou can see its footprints leading into this temporary cave created by the snow-bent grasses. I didn’t see the bird emerge the minute or so I watched.

Turdus migratoriusSnowy feet, muddy beak.


Passerella iliacaA couple of Fox Sparrows (Passerella iliaca) were out from under the usual undergrowth they like to kick up in. The species visits us in winter, but not in great numbers. Their russet red plumage is a nice contrast to other sparrow species, and quite tell-tale.
Passerella iliacaThis was an overcast day, and you really want the sun hitting them for the best photos. Open up the pictures for bigger view and see the snow around their bills.

Twilight’s Last Gulls

IMG_0299This was a recent sunset over Governor’s Island. It was cold there on the edge of the water, colder than anywhere else around, but the sight was worth the bone-chill of time. But even when it’s not a technicolor spectacle — and this one reminded me of the many-initialed Turner — sunset on New York harbor is always a time to see a natural history marvel of another sort.IMG_0320It’s the gulls, mostly Ring-billed, moving to their night roosts. They are by and large silent. They seem to be moving just the outer halves of their wings, not quite gliding. Occasionally, one or two will do sudden plummets, like solos from the chorus. They were mostly heading north by northeast, along the East River, this time, but you’ll see them heading the other way to, in flight upon flight, sometimes just a few, sometimes crowds of fifty or a hundred. They are in search of roosts for the night. They look like effortless fliers, heading that last mile home to rest and peace. For an Earth-bound biped, it is a thrilling experience to see them coast upon the cold winds. IMG_0333


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  • Bellyful of ramen got me home through the slush and the rain. 7 hours ago
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